Over 4000 companies are making a living by managing Taobao/Tmall stores for merchants or providing them with software and/or services, according to Alibaba. The number was 600 in 2011. Alibaba’s online marketplaces for Chinese retailers saw a 64% increase in the number of third-party service providers and a 72% growth in total merchandise sold through them in 2014.

Offerings from third-party services range from store design, store operations, customer relationship management and data analysis to warehousing and logistics. Taobao already has a marketplace for software tools or services for store owners to choose from and purchase.

Founded in 2007, Baozun was one of the first third parties to help brands manage their stores on Taobao and is now one of the biggest of its kind. Now it has 1600 employees operating online stores for around 100 brands, including a number of international labels. It is reported Alibaba is one of the investors in Baozun.

Since other Chinese online retailers such as JD.com have also established marketplaces, these solution and service providers have added offerings for those platforms too.

Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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